Although Amsterdam isn’t famed for its beaches, they’re actually a bit of a hidden gem. You’ve got natural strips of sand that are favourites with in-the-know watersports fans. And, man-made city beaches are open for business during the summer.
It takes less than 30 minutes to reach Zandvoort aan Zee by car. This beach is popular with locals and tourists alike – looking at the wide swathes of sand, you can see why. Besides sunbathing, there’s plenty to do here, too. It’s known as a prime spot for watersports, including surfing, kayaking and kitesurfing. Plus, you’ve got loads of choice when it comes to bars and restaurants – the edge of the beach is peppered with them.
Pllek, meaning ‘the place’, is set on the NDSM wharf. The wharf began life as a shipyard, it closed down in the 1980s, and artists began to use the space. Now, it’s a cultural centre of Amsterdam. Pllek is a restaurant, made out of old shipping containers, with an outdoor terrace. But, the jewel in its crown is its summertime urban beach. The sand is dotted with giant beanbags for you to relax on with a drink in hand.
When you’re wandering around Amsterdam, you’ll come across lots of street-side kiosks selling these thick Dutch fries. They’re served up in a paper cone – perfect for keeping your hands warm while you explore. Ask for Patatje oorlog and your chips will come drenched in a mix of satay sauce, mayo and raw onions. It might be an unusual combination, but it really works.
Bitterballen are the perfect snack to accompany your drink. Sort of like the Dutch version of peanuts and crisps, you can order these at most bars alongside your chosen tipple. They’re like meatballs, made up of seasoned beef or veal mixed with butter. They’re deep-fried in breadcrumbs, and then served with mustard for dipping.
Walk into any bar in Amsterdam and you’re sure to find its favourite beer on tap. This lager was first brewed in the city in the 1800s. If it’s served properly, you won’t get a full glass. It’s topped with a foam hat, which has confused many a tourist into thinking they’ve been ripped off. But the Dutch insist that this keeps it extra-fizzy for longer.
For something sweet, try these little doughnut-pancake hybrids. You’ll get about a dozen bite-sized treats in a portion – they’re served topped with melted butter and generously dusted with icing sugar. Try them in a Dutch pancake house, or on-the-go from a kiosk.
You get a real taste of the Netherlands’ cultural history with the rijsttafel, or rice table. It’s a fusion of Dutch and Indonesian food, which dates back to when Indonesia was a Dutch colony in the 19th and 20th centuries. If you order a rijsttafel, you’ll get a massive selection of small plates – almost like Dutch/Indonesian tapas – served up with rice.
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